My Week With America's Supernanny (Interview)
We caught up with Jenny Fitzgerald, the mom from last night's episode of "America's Supernanny" and we wanted to find out if and how their week with Deborah changed her and her family’s life and what advice she has for parents who are watching the show and can relate to her story.
Lifetime Moms: Why did you feel like it was time to call in “America’s Supernanny”?
Jenny: My sister actually called into America's Supernanny for us as she had watched me struggle for years with parenting. I was so happy she did! For many years I shared with her that I feel like I am not the woman for this job. I love my kids more than I could ever express but have such a tough time knowing how to discipline, what to expect of them, how to organize our days, etc. It's been painfully discouraging for me.
Lifetime Moms: How did your friends and family react when they heard America’s Supernanny was coming to lend a hand? What did the kids think?
Jenny: My friends couldn't BELIEVE we were going to have America's Supernanny come help us! Some said they couldn't imagine why she would come to our house because we have sweet kids -- but those who know how difficult it is for me to stay on top of everything with parenting and running a household and staying sane at the same time were very excited for me! Everyone we've told can't wait to watch the show! My kids didn't think much of it. My two oldest boys figured it would help because they say I'm so often stressed out. I really don't think they had any idea what a big deal it would be.
Lifetime Moms: How would you describe the impact Deborah’s visit had on your family?
Jenny: Deborah's visit made a huge impact on my life...and therefore on the lives of my children. We have much clearer expectations and clear boundaries now, so everyone knows how to respond. It's hard work to keep implementing everything we've learned, but my husband and I continue to encourage each other to stay the course because we know it is making a huge difference. Our communication as a family has increased and deepened. I feel like my two oldest boys are feeling "heard" on a regular basis. My son Garrett has not run out of the house in over 7 days. This is truly remarkable! The biggest impact Deborah's visit made was the way she helped me believe that I can be the mother that these children need me to be. I have thanked God for Deborah every day since we met her!
Lifetime Moms: What were the top two or three lessons learned or “take-aways” from the experience? What was the experience like for the kids?
Jenny: Three "take-aways" from our experience were: 1. Find out what communicates love to our children and communicate that way on a DAILY basis. 2. Make ALL the expectations of our home crystal clear and stay committed to those expectations. 3. Be positive, patient, positive, patient and positive.
Lifetime Moms: How would you describe your parenting style pre-Deborah’s visit? And what changes have you made since?
Jenny: I don't know that I could describe any kind of style of parenting I used pre-Deborah's visit. My goal for parenting was to love and listen and try as hard as I could. Now I carry my "tools" with me throughout the day and am constantly talking about our house rules. These rules give me freedom because I know what to focus on and what to let go of. I am not nagging like I used to. I give a "friendly reminder" and that's it. I feel much more comfortable knowing what to do when my 4 year old is out of control and I calmly remind her to follow our house rules, and then if she chooses not to she goes to her "calm down corner".
Lifetime Moms: Is there anything you discovered about yourself during this time?
Jenny: What I discovered about myself was how overwhelmed I had been feeling. I didn't know what to do as a parent or how to help my older kids with their attitude struggles or my daughter with her loud protests, or Garrett's running away. I discovered how desperate I was for help that would work. I also discovered that I have done my best up to this point and felt so thankful for what we had been able to do as a family -- even though it had been so challenging. I saw - in a new light - how committed I've been to my kids, even though what I've been doing hasn't been as effective as I would have wanted.
Lifetime Moms: Is it hard to go back to every day life after the cameras stop rolling and Deborah is no longer there to help mediate?
Jenny: It IS tough to get back into everyday life. When Deborah was here our entire focus was on parenting. We weren't interrupted by anything else: no appointments, no lessons, no one knocking at the door or meetings/gatherings to attend. I have wondered if I should have kept the kids home for a whole month until we got these techniques DOWN! It's so great having my husband know all the things we started so that he can keep me on track. Many times I've wished Deborah could come once a week for follow-up times. But, I'm sure every mom would feel that way. I know we can do this -- and I keep praying that God will keep giving me the strength and energy I need to do it well.
Lifetime Moms: What advice do you have for other families watching who are experiencing similar issues in their homes?
Jenny: If I could offer any advice it would be to find someone who could come into their home and see the whole picture: what challenges you face and why. An outside person looking in can see things clearer than we can when we're in the middle of it all. And then to have that person actually set up systems and show you...hands on...how they work. What a gift! If that's not possible, call me and I'll tell you everything she taught us (wink, wink).
House rules are golden; consequences for not following house rules need to be communicated clearly and understood by the whole family; keep it simple and focused on the most important things for your family. I guess lastly I'd say that parenting can be extremely difficult and challenging. No one really walks in our shoes -- so to receive feedback that's negative can be painful, even though it's productive, but remember that you're really doing your best. I think every human being needs help in life somewhere along their journey.
Missed last night's epsiode? You can watch the full epsiode online for free right now! Tune in to "America's Supernanny" Tuesdays at 9pm/8c on Lifetime.